Humboldt bridge project put on hold

HUMBOLDT – Humboldt’s Sumner Avenue Bridge project has been put on hold.

High water levels along the west fork of the Des Moines River have made construction impossible, Aaron Burnett, city administrator, said.

“It’s delayed it already, probably about three weeks,” Burnett said. “We’re going to lose another week easily to clean up, and then they’ve probably got another three weeks of reconstruction of the cofferdams and the causeways and things like that. And that’s assuming things go well from this point forward.”

Burnett estimates there will be about two months of delays total. Originally expected to be completed in October, the project now will likely not be finished until early 2015.

“It’s kind of the nature of working on a bridge over a river,” he said. “Every once in a while, you’re going to get surprised.”

Impacted by the delay, too, is contractor Godbersen-Smith of Ida Grove.

“Their staging area was completely flooded out. They got most of the stuff out of there and tied down everything, but I think they still lost a few things in that staging area,” Burnett said. “They’re stuck with a project that got pushed back and they lost some days. They lost some labor hours. And they lost some forms in the high water.”

He added, “It was a very, very high water event here in town, and it’s wreaked a little bit of havoc on that project.”

Construction had already been underway, Burnett said. The avenue’s old bridge had been demolished, along with the abutments. And one pier with cofferdam had been finished, and work on another pier with cofferdam had started.

“Both those dams were completely damaged. They’ll have to be completely reset,” he said. “So that work was lost.”

The pier itself, however, appears to be fine, Burnett said.

“We’ll have to take a look at it, because there was a lot of debris that pushed up against it,” he said. “And without the deck on the bridge, that could have caused some movement on that pier. If there is movement of any significant amount, then they’ll have to demolish the pier.”

There is not a full assessment yet on the extent of any damages.

“Even with some of the damage at this point, we don’t know if the pier was really damaged. The causeway appears to be damaged, but we don’t know to what extent because the water hasn’t really receded low enough to get a good look at it,” Burnett said. “We’ll have to evaluate that when the water gets a touch lower.”

According to Burnett, the delay on the $2 million project should have no greater financial impact on the city.

“Most of this is going to be covered by the contractor,” he said. “Most if not all costs for the delay will be borne by the contractor.”